melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
melannen ([personal profile] melannen) wrote2010-01-18 02:04 am

More Science!

So first! Apparently the poll numbers about most slashers being queer struck a chord with people. (yay!)

As a result I have acquired numbers for several more polls now, with no effort on my part!
318 participants
"Do you self-identify as queer?"
Yes: 199
No: 119
Percent self-identified as queer: 62.6%
mostly ones fan's circle (or possibly walruses)
276 participants
129 straight or mostly straight
162 some variety of not straight
Percent self-identified as queer: 55.6%

(Rough numbers because @$#%^%@$#, my computer just crashed and WHERE IS MY GIANT LONG SAVED DRAFT THAT WAS ALMOST READY TO POST? WHERE IS IT, DW? NOT HERE!)
User's circle, in parallel on two journals.
Do you self-identify as a 100% heterosexual woman?
IJ: yes:2, no:23
DW: yes:1, no:20

Since a no here includes both a)people who identify as not heterosexual and b)people who identify as not women (and people who identify as neither), the numbers don't quite fit with the other polls, but they do, I think, fit the trend.

Also, I was given numbers for a poll recently taken in a locked community that is at least peripherally associated with slash fandom. I'm not re-posting until we get (hopefully pending) permission from the mods to break flock, but as it is somewhat contradictory to my thesis, I'll say it came out slightly less than half queer.

I have this niggling feeling that there was another link someone gave me, but I can't find it now, so if it was you, sorry! I didn't leave it out on purpose!

Also! I have been corresponding in email with Anne Kustritz ([ profile] theorynut, she who wrote the 2003 paper that Wikipedia cites. She wrote that paper while working on her Master's, has since gotten her doctorate, and wishes it to be known that I was far kinder to her 2003 paper than she is to it. Her doctoral dissertation was titled "Productive (Cyber) Public Space: Slash Fan Fiction's Multiple Imaginary," and it used an actual, rigorous ethnographic survey to argue, among other things, that, er, THE MAJORITY OF SLASHERS IDENTIFY AS QUEER.

The diss isn't published (yet), or freely downloadable, but you can read some of the front matter of the dissertation. She was also kind enough to send me both a full copy of her dissertation and the numbers for the two polls cited in the 2003 paper, and give me permission to post about it all! And I had a wonderful write-up, but then my stupid computer crashed and DW didn't save the draft and it is far too late to write it up again coherently! I will try to do justice to it soon, but I cannot guarantee it, because there's this job-type-thingy I am starting tomorrow afternoon at short notice, and I will probably not be online much as a result.

(Which also means that I will probably be very, very slow at both modding and answering comments for awhile: be warned. But have fun without me!)

Here is the short, short version of what she gave me: the DMEB poll was only about gender, not sexuality. (apparently this was necessary because in 2003 some people in the establishment were of the opinion that most slashers were gay men using female pseuds. Imagine the discussion we'd be having now if *that* was in Wikipedia instead!) The 1999 poll was indeed Master/Apprentice, and it was a kinsey scale poll:

0 -- 28.9 %
1 -- 24.5 %
2 -- 21.9 %
3 -- 16 %
4 -- 4.8 %
5 -- 1.88 %
6 -- 2.04 %

I'm too dead to re-run the numbers, but from memory the average Kinsey number was 1.5-something, and it's about 70% not-entirely-straight and 45% not-mostly straight. This is what the "most slashers are heterosexual women" quote is, essentially, based on: 45% of M/A members in 1999 identifying as at least a Kinsey 2.

Kustritz's survey for her doctorate was, by contrast, a REALLY EXCELLENT SURVEY, all. As was the analysis she did of it! It was properly designed and stuff, and it had slashers from several dozen different, widely dispersed communities in it, and I am very sad that it was not linked on metafandom the week after she defended it. (our higher education system: why you so bad at sharing your learnings?) Really rough numbers from memory, which were from surveys done in mid-to-late 2004: approx. 150 participants.

39.33 percent: unequivocally straight
21.35 percent: unambiguous bisexuality
6.74 percent: gay or lesbian
12.36 percent: bisexuality with trans and/or fluid qualifiers
14.61 percent: "heterosexual, but”
5.62 percent: other

So by my methods, that's approx. 51% straight or mostly straight, 49% queer, or too close to call. I want to point out - which was also one of her points - that another way to break it down would be ~1/3 straight, ~1/3 lgb, and ~1/3 "none of the above". I think that's... really important. And most of the other polls that asked the right questions got similar ratios when cut along those lines.

Anyway! That in no way does justice to the data, but it's what you're getting, because I sleep now and don't know when I'll be back.
sara: S (Default)

[personal profile] sara 2010-01-18 09:15 am (UTC)(link)
*beams at you*

Good luck with the job thing. Yay numbers.
elke_tanzer: my fannish alter-ego keeps me sane (fannish alter-ego)

Thank you so much for this post.

[personal profile] elke_tanzer 2010-01-18 09:30 am (UTC)(link)
And for your previous post.
melusina: (Any anna_bolina sappho)

[personal profile] melusina 2010-01-18 12:57 pm (UTC)(link)
This is fascinating stuff! I've been thinking about this and I think part of the reason that fandom appears straighter than it may actually be is that, at any given time, some percentage of the women in fandom who are queer may be living relatively heteronormative lives (at least to outside observers) - even if these women are vocal about their sexuality, there are people, both inside and outside fandom, who will insist that these women are "pretending" to be queer (essentially denying these women the right to define their own sexualities). In other cases, women may be reluctant to share their sexuality with someone they don't know, and depending on how rigorously the analyst collects her/his data, the analyst may just assume that someone is straight because of her/his current choice of partner.

This may be true of men in fandom as well, but the examples I can think of are bisexual women who are in monogamous relationships with men. . .

(And of course this happens in the offline world as well - bisexuality tends to be erased, because someone's "real" sexuality is assumed to be defined by whoever her/his current partner is. If you're in a relationship with someone of the opposite sex, you're straight (and any prior same-sex experience is assumed to be "experimenting") and if you're in a relationship with someone of the same sex, you're gay (and any prior opposite-sex experience is assumed to be reluctance to come out of the closet or confusion.)
flourish: A cartoon Mrs. Bennet with the caption "Nobody can tell what I suffer!" (AoS complaining)

[personal profile] flourish 2010-01-18 01:55 pm (UTC)(link)
Just want to add an 'amen' to this.
trobadora: (Default)

[personal profile] trobadora 2010-01-18 05:01 pm (UTC)(link)
Just adding my "Yes, this!" as well. :)
elke_tanzer: my fannish alter-ego keeps me sane (fannish alter-ego)

/nods nods

[personal profile] elke_tanzer 2010-01-18 06:58 pm (UTC)(link)
This may be true of men in fandom as well, but the examples I can think of are bisexual women who are in monogamous relationships with men. . .

Bisexual men who are in (or seeking) relationships with women, bisexual women who are in (or seeking) relationships with men... and anyone not currently in a relationship at all...

midnightbex: (Default)

[personal profile] midnightbex 2010-01-25 07:28 pm (UTC)(link)
This hits the issue exactly on the head. I can't tell you the number of times I've heard that I'm just confused or pretending when I tell someone I'm bisexual. I even had one lesbian tell me I couldn't be queer because she 'didn't get the vibe that I liked women' from me and you can't like both. Which let me tell you was the last place I thought I'd get that sort of thing from.
princessofgeeks: (Default)

[personal profile] princessofgeeks 2010-01-18 12:58 pm (UTC)(link)
thank you so much for doing this. this is really important.
stellar_dust: Barney toasts: "To being AWESOME." (HIMYM - barney awesome)

[personal profile] stellar_dust 2010-01-18 04:51 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm going to ignore the rest of this post and just say OMG YOU HAVE A JOB THINGY YAAAYY! *throws a party and feeds you ice cream* What kind of job?

But the post is, again, excellent - yay for corresponding with someone who has real data! And, yes, it really frustrates me that the academic world has so few meeting points with the public. ARGH. Yanno, I'm gonna see to what extent I'm allowed to blog my research progress this semester. Hmm.
Edited 2010-01-18 16:57 (UTC)
kyabetsu: Kitty with stoner-eyes licks the sofa, "Snozz: teh best berries." (SnozzBerries)

[personal profile] kyabetsu 2010-01-18 07:38 pm (UTC)(link)

Oh Congratulations!
carmarthen: "Would you like my hat?" (Default)

[personal profile] carmarthen 2010-01-18 05:01 pm (UTC)(link)
This is EVERY MORE INTERESTING than your first post. You are awesome.

Here is the short, short version of what she gave me: the DMEB poll was only about gender, not sexuality. (apparently this was necessary because in 2003 some people in the establishment were of the opinion that most slashers were gay men using female pseuds.

I'm still a bit puzzled as to why one would survey a mostly-het-writing community to say something about slashers' genders. I mean, did anyone think gay men were writing Mary Sue het where Darth Maul falls in love with an Earth girl or gets his own lady Sith apprentice or whatever? (I'm also a little baffled by the "female pseuds" thing--so many fannish pseuds in any community are neither male nor female nor name-like. I mean, mine is a city in Wales. My previous pseud was a bird.)
carmarthen: "Would you like my hat?" (Default)

[personal profile] carmarthen 2010-01-21 02:51 am (UTC)(link)
Hmmm. I really can't remember anything besides the SA and a couple other stories, but it's also possible those got taken down (I wish DMEB-1 still loaded properly). Anyway, I still think it's kind of an odd group to generalize off of.

Why in the world would anyone think gay men writing gay fiction for gay men would pretend to be women? Baffling!
starlady: the OTW logo with text "fandom is my fandom" (fandom^2)

[personal profile] starlady 2010-01-18 10:04 pm (UTC)(link)
Yay for the job thingy, and for science!

Thanks for crunching these numbers. This is hugely important.
espreite: (Default)

[personal profile] espreite 2010-01-18 10:38 pm (UTC)(link)

These posts make me so happy. I love seeing the demographics all shiny like this.
jonquil: (Default)

[personal profile] jonquil 2010-01-19 02:04 am (UTC)(link)
Holy *shit*. Thanks for doing the work to point this out. (I thought, quite honestly, it was just my unrepresentative friendslist and somewhere out there was the ruling cabal of married women and teenage girls that I read so much about in the press.)
lady_ganesh: A Clue card featuring Miss Scarlett. (Default)

[personal profile] lady_ganesh 2010-01-19 02:28 am (UTC)(link)
Your posts continue being awesome. And yay job and sleep!
counteragent: red shoe (Default)

[personal profile] counteragent 2010-01-19 02:38 am (UTC)(link)
This is very informative! Thanks for the effort.
linkspam_mod: A metal chain (Default)

[personal profile] linkspam_mod 2010-01-19 02:55 am (UTC)(link)
Your post has been included in a Linkspam.
duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)

[personal profile] duskpeterson 2010-01-19 04:14 am (UTC)(link)
I'm glad you were able to retrieve the numbers from Anne Kustritz. In case anyone wants to see it, The Darth Maul Estrogen Brigade survey was cached here. The Internet Archive's Wayback Machine is always a good place to check for material that's been taken offline.

Also, if one does a Web search on, the Master and Apprentice archive shows right up. :) It doesn't appear to have the original survey on it any more, though - and anyway, you posted the results here.

Thank you for doing all this hard work. This was fascinating to read.
jamie: chibi obi-wan kenobi (jedi)

[personal profile] jamie 2010-01-21 07:26 am (UTC)(link)
fyi (I'm the m_a archive owner), the survey broke about six months after it went up due to a software upgrade by erik and sockii. It broke in such a way that they didn't have a good way to fix it - and people (outside fandom) had discovered the survey. Some of the folks surveyed weren't comfortable with the data being public (there were real names iirc because they thought it was a walled garden [slash was more undercover then]) so she never pulled the data back into a person readable format. When I took over in 2001 I inherited everything but the survey data.
duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)

[personal profile] duskpeterson 2010-01-22 01:16 pm (UTC)(link)
"I'm the m_a archive owner"

But have no TPM interest tags on your profile. Should I be worried about the state of the TPM fandom?

Just joking. :) Seriously, thank you for keeping the archive going. Some of my favorite reads over the years I've found there.

Seen on Metafandom

(Anonymous) 2010-01-19 08:16 am (UTC)(link)
This one states 52% of the respondents self-identified as "bisexual, lesbian, or gay"(page 93). However, page 46 states respondents were "members of the slash community" and "insiders".

Boyd, Kelly Simca. 2001. "One index finger on the mouse scroll bar and the other on my clit": Slash writers' views on pornography, censorship, feminism and risk. PhD diss., Simon Fraser University.

I still haven't seen any sampling that would be considered random in that someone chose random samples from archived slash fanfic and then contacted the authors to invite them to participate in a survey. And then do similar samples with gen and het fanfic.

The poll responses seem to be from "insiders" who are already self-selected and/or have probably discouraged people who don't fit their norm. So far the only hypothesis I would hazard is that LiveJournal slash fanfic writers seem to be about evenly divided between "queer" and "heterosexual". Maybe people who answer the polls are just extroverts. Maybe other people are just "it's none of your business" and don't answer.

countess_baltar from LJ (Bachelor of Science (statistics, information systems, calculus, etc.), Master's Degree, and another piece of paper that is considered the equivalent of a PhD.)

Re: Seen on Metafandom

(Anonymous) 2010-01-20 10:27 am (UTC)(link)
so... are you saying the reason there's so many queer people in polls is that straight people are in the closet?
pine: picture of big pine tree in California vineyard (Default)

[personal profile] pine 2010-01-19 08:26 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you so much for posting this! Especially with a job-thingy coming up - hope it rocks!
kiki_eng: two bats investigating plants against the night sky (Default)

[personal profile] kiki_eng 2010-01-20 02:23 am (UTC)(link)
(here via [community profile] metafandom)

This is really interesting. Thanks for compiling this.
midnightbex: (Default)

[personal profile] midnightbex 2010-01-25 07:49 pm (UTC)(link)
This is again interesting and even more so than your first post. I hope her diss is available online at some point because it sounds like a very worthwhile read.

It seems to me that one of the problems with recognizing queer slashers is the way slash fans and their sexuality are being associated. I think many people have the idea that slash is written and read for the titillation of it, that it is solely a form of pornography.

In my experience people who identify as slashers share a lot of similarities in their fannish behavior as those who don't. What drives people into fandom, het, gen, or slash, is often a search for something that isn't present in the text. While there will always be a portion of any group that is solely looking for a smuttier angle on their favorite source, I believe that portion is much smaller than many people imagine.

The point is, many people who don't necessarily get off on two men having sex identify as slashers because they're looking for an alternative source of queerness that isn't present in the text. Much of Western media is preoccupied with hetero-normative white male leads surrounded by other hetero-normative white males. When the vast majority of main characters we are given to relate to are straight white men often with few women in the background (especially in older sources), is it any surprise that queer women of all shades turned to pairing them up? Isn't that just another way of supplementing their needs that aren't getting met by the source?

(Anonymous) 2010-01-29 07:59 am (UTC)(link)
Hello! Been following your conversation via a link from the fabulous Geek Feminism blog. :)

Thought I'd add this to the conversation:
In early 2008 I surveyed a fairly diverse cross-section fans for my MA thesis. The survey had 7,748 participants in total. Within these results, 3214 individuals opted to answer (and not skip) the question, "What sexuality do you identify as?"

The results were:
Heterosexual 68%
Homosexual 4%
Bisexual 23%
Asexual 3%
None of the Above 2%

While the majority of participants did identify as straight, the numbers of bisexual fans seems quite significant, particularly when viewed next to the 4% identifying as homosexual. Also, if those numbers are combined, the number of people identifying as something other than heterosexual, while not the majority, is still quite high.

(Happy to answer any questions, if you have them: My plan has always been to post all the survey results online, but sadly, life has been creating some large and distracting obstacles.)

quick correction

(Anonymous) 2010-01-29 08:14 am (UTC)(link)
Oops. Typed the wrong number, sorry. 4087 people answered the question on sexuality, not 3214.